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Vídeo sob pressão #1: Corpo em resistência at Círculo Sereia

There is a non-transferable quality to submersion: ephemerality. The possibilities for resistance are endless, but a human body does not live underwater. It does not breathe. In the time of submersion, the literal body and the voice escape us. This is the warning of José Maçãs de Carvalho in his work Never Tell a Secret, where a female body tries to tell us something underwater. We don’t hear, we don’t understand. Here, perhaps the condition of submersion is actually a space on the surface. Is the contemporary body submerged? Whoever visits Círculo Sereia will not immediately see Maçãs de Carvalho’s work. But I considered it necessary to start here, mentioning something decisive for understanding the exhibition.

We are welcomed by Luís Alegre’s work Untitled (anything that moves dies and rises – after Elena Córdoba), which shows the body’s ineluctable condition: to be alive is to be under pressure. The inevitable movement translates into a new narrative of ascendancy or descent. Stability is the field of utopia that shapes us, the utopia within our reach: stabilising the body. Unattainable, immortality lies in the oscillation, to ascend is not to submerge. On the other hand, the body is filled with hope when it sees its dominant capacity or an absolute stoicism: in Semi-Panoramic Sea Concert by Ana Rito, we find the triumphalism necessary to make this constellation come true. Water finally yields before the body, becoming itself a manipulated body. But I shall stress the following: it is all a romanticised staging. We know who the winner will be if one of the waves breaks on the maestro’s body. The element of water is also in João Tabarra’s work, entitled O Encantador de Serpentes: an object (a hose) suddenly comes to life, escaping natural human control. By moving uncontrollably, this object becomes a new feature on the urban landscape, a reference to the pictorial power of the moving image. It is as if a segment of reality revolts and deep down it is just that and nothing more. What can be said of an object that suddenly decontextualises itself? The relationship between video and painting becomes clearer in this exhibition with Juliana Julieta’s work entitled Phoenix Flight (Via Crucis is not 4U). We see a painting in motion, a body that meets a barrier on the way – that is, our body meets another body that then meets a barrier. The distraction of the contemporary viewer makes us forget that before any of the various bodies in these works is our own. If the video were absent, we would be facing a physically insurmountable barrier: the projected image as a portal. Let’s not forget this. In Jorge Molder’s Linha do Tempo, a body that seems to be inside itself tries to escape time, looking for breaches: the body that ironically intends to break down linearity, perhaps without realising that its existence depends on it. Time as imposed claustrophobia, as memory.

Each one of the videos presents a reading of reality, a point of view as true as the contemporary spectator’s gaze, producer of its own truth. Video potentiates transformations of the real, and may help us to read it, seeking in the truth of the first the truth of the second. Thus, we find ourselves in a complicated antithetical field, where the artificial element intends to clarify everything that surrounds us, that which we consider natural and normative a priori.

Corpo em resistência curated by José Maçãs de Carvalho and Carlos Antunes is the first chapter of the exhibition cycle Vídeo sob pressão and which can be seen until October 16 at Círculo Sereia (Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra).

Daniel Madeira (Coimbra, 1992) has a degree in Artistic Studies from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Coimbra and a Master's in Curatorial Studies from the Colégio das Artes at the same university. Between 2018 and 2021, he coordinated the Exhibition Space and the Educational Project of the Águeda Arts Center. Currently, he collaborates with the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra (CAPC).

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